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The Work/Life Balance of Advertising Practitioners

Turning our attention to practitioners in the field, this issue takes a deep dive into the work/life balance implications of a career in the advertising industry. In preparing this issue, however, the discussion quickly revealed that “life” is often synonymous with “family,” adding a gender dimension to this issue’s focus.

By way of introduction, Jean M. Grow and Tao Deng’s article explores in unparalleled depth the gender diversity in advertising agencies across 50 countries. Sex Segregation in Advertising Creative Departments Across the Globe concludes that the global average of women in advertising creative departments amounts to 20.3 percent, with only 14.6 percent of creative directors being women—far below the proportional representation benchmark of 35 percent. Illustrating the strong vertical and horizontal sex segregation, the authors underline the industry’s persistent gender bias.

The dynamics that underlie this bias are complex and require full and dedicated attention of their own. However, Jami A. Fullerton and Alice Kendrick’s contribution provides insight that encourages initial reflection. Perceptions of Work/Life Balance Among U.S. Advertising Students: A Study of Gender Differences reveals a “want it all” attitude in U.S. advertising undergraduates but equally demonstrates stronger male preference for a career-life versus personal-life.

The conversation is continued in a roundtable where the authors are joined by advertising practitioners Claire Behar, Tara DeVeaux, and Andrea Sullivan. Reflecting on their first-hand experience with combining careers and families, the roundtable participants conclude that professional fulfillment can be a positive—albeit admittedly difficult to manage—contribution to their children’s upbringing.

A revealing interview of hall-of-fame advertising executive Laurel Cutler, conducted by Linda M. Scott, rounds up the discussion by illustrating the long path that has been travelled in terms of gender equity. Renowned for making effective market predictions, Laurel leaves us with a message of hope: despite the difficulties, the tide is changing for men and women alike.

Linda M. Scott
Editor

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